At times on this grief journey, people have said to me, (and I know they mean well)
"Matt is still with you".
Well, in reality, he is not.
"So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord." 2 Cor. 5:6-8
He is with Jesus.
His body is gone and his soul is with Jesus and he is enjoying it fully. I know he is gone but at home with the Lord. There is an empty place at the table, in the van and in my bed that I consider every day. I get to receive my kids' fears, anxieties, worries, joys, complaining, bad dreams, slime stuck in the carpet, picky eating, fits, thankfulness, and grief, without him here.
I took the above picture just 11 days before Matt was to be at home with the Lord. I remember standing at his bedside while he was breathing in a halting manner and in pain. I laid my hand on his chest to tell him "I am with you" and he gently laid his hand on mine. I knew it was a special moment but didn't know it would be the last time he could lay his hand on mine. I didn't know how precious this photo would be to me someday. Our rings. His gray skin tone. That shirt. So many details impart pain. But underneath all of that...there is the promise. We were "with you" for one another. He and I were with one another for 288 months. 24 meaningful years. The physical presence of being "with you" is done. I am and plan to keep his memory alive to my kids and myself. He will always be a part of our lives. There is no "moving on" when you lose someone you love to death. There is only moving forward. His impact on our lives will not be overlooked or forgotten.
As I sit with Jesus often He keeps reminding me from His word that "He is with me". Matt is not here but Jesus is and He is enough--all the time! It is precious. Psalm 46:1-3, Proverbs 18:10, Isaiah 41:10, Deuteronomy 31:8, Joshua 1:9. And then there are days when He sends loud and clear messages to my heart...right in front of my eyes. Keep looking for them---He does this!
I recently flew to help my oldest daughter with something at her college in MS. At the tiny airport, while waiting for security to open, I saw a sweet-looking elderly woman seated in the waiting area. I sensed the Lord say "you need to meet her". So I sat a few seats away from her and when she smiled at me, I said, "How are you today?" She told me where she was going and where she came from that day. I assisted her through the security area. As we sat down to wait for boarding to begin, she began to tell me about her kids and how one had passed away recently. She also shared that she became a widow at age 35. She and I had a lot in common. She loves Jesus too. She suddenly pressed her wise heart into mine and shared golden nuggets of truth and wisdom that the Lord knew I needed to hear that day. She was my divine reminder of Him being "with you" that day. Willa and I plan to stay in touch. She even has a cell phone ;) She doesn't know that I took notes...because what dripped from her tongue that day filled my soul with what I needed to hear that day and I want to remember it. He is with you.
Several months ago, I was surprised to win an amazing basket of goodies from a solo parent ministry near my home! A complimentary haircut was included in the prizes! Since my sweet, loving friend was keeping my kids for a few days in KY so I could rest and get a few things accomplished (got the van cleaned-first time this year...left the pics out on that one!) I had made an appointment for Friday. I had gone on the website for the salon to pick the oldest, male hair dresser I could find. (my one and only haircut I ever loved was cut by a man) I made the appointment with "Jim". We met and discussed how I wanted my "do" to be done and I was confident that he knew what he was doing. Whew! Then we began to chat about life, family and careers. He told me he didn't have any children. I told him I had 8! The look of shock was one I was used to getting. :) Naturally, he asked me, "what does your husband do for a living?". So I told him about Matt and our life together, his cancer and death. He just stood there and cried for a few seconds. He cut my hair. While he was working, he mentioned that he'd be traveling to Brazil with his family for Christmas. I told him that I had a daughter who was saving money to travel to Brazil someday. He asked me how old she was and told me he would bring home a gift from Brazil for her if I would come back and get it from him. When it was time for me to go to the counter to pay he walked up to the counter with me. He stopped and looked at the bill with a confused look on his face and held up the bill and tore it in half with a smile on his face. He said, "I want your family to have a Merry Christmas, you don't owe anything today." I began to weep in front of this stranger showing me that "God is with you". He hugged me and prayed for me and I sobbed. He said goodbye and I said thank you.
And God said, I am "with you".